Every athlete, elite or amateur, knows that the only way to get better is to measure your performance – again and again! Why don’t public speakers?
If I suggested to a group of athletes that they used a new measuring method, every time they performed, most of them would probably think I was an idiot – and perhaps say something like: ”if we don’t use exactly the same measuring method every time, how can we know anything about our improvement?” (and if I suggested that they could measure their performance by the amount of applause they got, their response would probably be even less understanding.)
But what happens when I talk to public speakers is quite different. Almost everybody finds feedback from the audience, about their performance, really interesting and useful. But surprisingly, most of us don’t ask our audience for feedback after a talk. In reality, most public speakers do not see themselves as performers who should systematically evaluate how they perform. If they did – they would perhaps start measuring audience feedback much more tightly. To find out what really worked – and which areas to improve.
So why don’t we just evaluate our talks systematically?
I can see two reasons: First of all, there hasn’t been a standardized measuring unit for speakers – like the kilometer, second or minute for the athletes. This means that the measuring tools had to be invented every time a public talk was evaluated. This made it very hard to compare performance over time and has actually left audience feedback as a fairly random experience. We like to have it – but we can’t really use it systematically.
The second reason is that audience feedback has traditionally been performed by the organizers of the talk. And that has it good historical reasons. Originally, the organizers were the people who had the contact to the audience and could collect the paper evaluation forms after a talk.
Now there is a standard for evaluating public speaking
The Internet has changed the way a lot of things work – and it is also changing audience feedback. It’s now easy for organizers and speakers to get feedback from the audience via smartphones, tablets or computers. And it’s easy for speakers and organizers to share the feedback, discuss it and use it to improve. And over the last year we have worked with public speakers, coaches and academic evaluation experts to design a systematic measuring tool for public speakers. A standard score system you can use to compare and improve. We call it The SpeakerScore.
Speakerscore is for public speakers, what the stop watch for athletes
What do you
think would happen to your performance, if you ran a (free) SpeakerScore on all of your talks? Do you think it would improve or stay the same? The SpeakerScore is a standard tool for collecting and comparing audience feedback. It’s easy to use at the end of your talk or via email – and you can share the score with co-workers, organizers or speakers.